The executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority has announced plans to retire.
Adolph Ojard has led the Port Authority for the past decade, after a long career in transportation with U.S. Steel. He's been involved in efforts to develop a national standard for ballast water treatment on ships, to prevent the spread of invasive species. Both the U.S. EPA and Coast Guard have released federal regulations recently. Ojard also lobbied Congress for increased dredging in the Great Lakes. The Senate has passed a bill to increase funding, but Ojard said the House hasn't acted yet.
"It's been 14 years since we've seen average water levels," Ojard said. "What that means is certainly some of our channels and some of the smaller harbors we trade with were having difficulty loading ships to their maximum draft."
But beyond the policy debates, Ojard says there is something special about the shipping industry in Duluth.
"Anytime I'm down at the aerial lift bridge and the bridge goes up and a ship comes in, I just can't help but migrate down to the pier and watch it myself. I think it's magical," Ojard said.
The Port Authority is conducting a national search for Ojard's replacement. They hope to hire a new director by September.